Tomorrow is my 36th birthday. A full lifetime since I roared into the world, annoying the midwife in the process (I was a few days overdue, the designated midwife went on her lunch break assuring Mum that nothing was developing, only to find me, 11 minutes old when she returned at two o’clock. It seems to me that I was a contrary bastard even before I was born).
I never really look forward to my birthday. It’s in the depths of winter, right before Christmas, everyone’s broke, busy, and beleaguered, and it’s a pain in the arse going out anywhere because of the less than joyful crowds. This year though looks like it’s shaping up to be even more of a belter than usual, as I face up to life on my own. I’m not expecting any presents from anyone, maybe a card or two, no plans with anyone over the age of ten, but even the plans I thought I’d made to do stuff with The Blondies are unravelling a bit because Dad’s quite ill in hospital, and we want to go in and visit him. So I have been feeling a bit selfish and self-pitying.
But there’s something I have been given lately that might just be the best present I could ever have received. And that’s you lot. ‘You lot’ encompassing the people I know on twitter, facebook, people who read this, even a few of you from that strange and confusing place known as Real Life. You’ve been amazing, so many of you. The emails, messages, texts, comments… all of it. You’ve kept me going on days when just getting The Blondies to school feels like it deserves an award ceremony. You’ve been there with me when I’ve had to go out and kick serious civil servant arse. You’ve made me feel, at times, invincible. You’ve brought me enormous comfort too.
And some of you have gone above and beyond anything I feel I deserved. Some of you have made me laugh with silliness. Some of you have been brilliant at distracting me. Some of you have let me rant and rave and leave snot all over the bloody place. All of you have played a part, in your own way. One of you has saved Christmas for The Blondies. One of you just behaves normally, so I feel normal. One of you genuinely saved my life one night, and that’s not something I would ever say lightly.
I’ve been a bit rubbish at replying and letting people know what’s going on and how I am. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate you, just that sometimes it’s much easier for me to keep my head down and just power through things to get to the other side. I fear that if I allow myself to stop and think I will become overwhelmed. Thinking is when the time for doing is over. There’s no time limit on thoughts.
But you lot, I wish I could thank you all individually. For what you’ve all given me. You’ve made me realise I am stronger, tougher, braver and more resilient than I knew. That is something for me to hold onto when the darkness feels overwhelming. Because of you, I know I will be ok, because I have to be. And I know it’s clichéd and naff and all the rest of it. But knowing that you’re around… it is a gift, honestly. You’ve all, in your way, given me what I needed. Time, and a place to be myself. Thank you.